KC Royals: Predicting the 2022 Opening Day lineup

(Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports) /
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KC Royals, Nicky Lopez
(Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /

Batting ninth and playing second base for the KC Royals: Nicky Lopez.

Spring training didn’t end well for Nicky Lopez last year. Kansas City optioned him to Triple-A to work on the hitting that in 2020 turned anemic (.201) and remained so (.118) through the Cactus League schedule.

But a reprieve materialized in the unfortunate form of Adalberto Mondesi’s first injury of the year, an oblique strain that forced the Royals to recall Lopez almost immediately after they sent him out. Lopez replaced Mondesi at shortstop and turned the opportunity his teammate’s misfortune created into his own good fortune—Lopez became the first Royal shortstop to hit .300 and more than adequately filled the defensive hole Mondesi’s absence created.

Now headed back to second base as part of Kansas City’s decision to restore Mondesi to shortstop, Lopez is destined to hit ninth in the Royal lineup.

So why bat a .300 hitter at the bottom of the order?

Simple. It’s a good place for him, one of little pressure as he tries to prove .300 wasn’t a fluke and one that also gives him chances to get on base ahead of Merrifield, who can move him along and make Lopez’s speed on the bases (22 steals last season) even more of a factor.

And his .287 average and .355 OBP prove ninth was a comfortable place for Lopez in 2021.

Next. Projecting Jackson Kowar. dark

The Royals should have a decent Opening Day lineup.